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Pop Sunday

The Eddies / Waiting

The Eddies

Waiting

(Twist Records 2020 ) 

For the past couple of decades, The Eddies have been composing and performing premium grade pop rock that has deservedly drawn worldwide praise. The Orange County, California based band’s latest album – “Waiting” – proves to be another exciting audio chapter in their long-running career. As an added perk, the disc contains alternate mixes of the featured tracks.

 
One of the numerous nuggets heard on “Waiting” is “In The Sunshine,” which is powered by a paralyzing swirl of crushing drums, trippy patterns and reverb-soaked vocals. A stinging guitar solo subsequently highlights the intense workout.  


Grounded in an entirely different setting, “Wishing On A Star” and “Can I Be With You” are founded upon danceable rhythms, the brassy blast of a trumpet, bubbly harmonies and lashing hooks that incorporate moptopped Mod moves with swinging soul grooves into a tidy package.


A soft and silky tone is applied to the dreamy  “Hey Baby,” which is laced with Latin-flavored trumpet interludes, and  “Show Me” romps and rolls to a  new wavish pop beat, radiating with melodic merriment. 


Heightened by the classy reveries of a violin and French horn, “A Girl Like You” steps in as a sweet and tasty pop piece, and cuts such as “I’m Waiting” and “I’m In Love With You” pair ethereal textures with spare arrangements, resembling the quieter moments of Big Star


Now that “Waiting” has been discussed, it is time to meet the musicians behind the dynamic songs. Twin brothers Dean and Dale Hoth are the vocalists and also play bass and guitar respectively, while Len Curiel is the drummer and noted producer Earle Mankey is the rhythm guitarist. Hooray for The Eddies and the joy they bring us with their great tunes!

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Pop Sunday

The Lemon Clocks / Time To Wake Up

The Lemon Clocks

“Time To Wake Up” (Rock Indiana 2020)

Here on their fifth album, “Time To Wake Up,” The Lemon Clocks proceed to explore and embrace varied late sixties and early seventies musical forms with remarkable results. Self-contained and self-assured, the band’s adventurous songs expand on the concepts they are so dearly enamored with. Each new Lemon Clocks album reveals growth and depth, and “Time To Wake Up” is no exception. 

In case you are not familiar with the band, Jeremy Morris handles lead vocals as well as a slew of different instruments. Stefan Johansson and Oscar Granero are also multi-instrumentalists, while Carlos Vigara plays bass, and Dave Dietrich is on drums and percussion.  

Directed by Jeremy’s mega-melodious vocals based in the Beatles-Badfinger range, “Time To Wake Up” takes listeners on an enchanted expedition of magical shapes and sensations. Captivating chord changes, shifting grooves, reverb-soaked trimmings, spinning synthesizer passages, haunting Mellotron motions, ringing glockenspeils and the warm tones of mandolins contribute to the interesting and exciting sounds housed within the album. Inspiring and surrealistic lyrics further illustrate the songs, producing a presentation vibrating with color and wonder.  

Every single track on “Time To Wake Up” possesses memorable qualities, but for starters, there’s “Sleepwalkers” that simultaneously tip-toes and trembles across a bed of spacey squiggles, underlined by an eerie riff that is plucked over and over again. Imagine The Electric Prunes rubbing shoulders with Pink Floyd, and that should give you a good idea where the creepy-crawly confection is coming from. 

Thieving the jaunty lick of Them’s “I Can Only Give Everything” and nailing it to a wall of trippy and hypnotic patterns, “Floating Free” signs on as another stroke of psychedelic genius, along with “You Are The Cosmos” and “Infinity Dream” that shimmer and swell with atmospheric elements. A shot of mind-bending ingredients arrive at the end of “Flowers In My Hair,” where the title cut of the album jingles to a clinging arrangement, and the salty temper of “Buzz Off!” duly buzzes with strange sonic figures and venomous verse aimed at a character suitably called Mister Mosquito. 

Songs featuring hanclaps are always fun, and “Time To Wake Up” offers a couple of such efforts. Bouncing and bopping with optimism, “Brand New Day” reflects the bubblegummy blush of The Archies, and the popping garage rock of “Stop!” is powered by an utterly infectious hook and bright and breezy harmonies. 

Set to a swaying rhythm and delivered in an easygoing manner, “People Come And Go” dispenses sage and spiritual commentary, “How I Miss You” slides in as a gorgeous mid-paced ballad rich with heart-tugging emotion, and the comparably thoughtful and effective “This Is Love!” would make John Lennon beam with paternal pride. 

The closing number on “Time To Wake Up” is a cover of the Tommy James and The Shondells paisley-phased classic, “Crimson And Clover.” Stretching out the song to nearly fifteen minutes in length, The Lemon Clocks turn an already brain-twisting tune into a tapestry of epic proportions. The beginning of the band’s version of “Crimson And Clover” remains true to the original recording. But about halfway through the song, gears are switched and a celestial Moody Blues styled symphony enters the picture. The Lemon Clocks eventually return to “Crimson And Clover,” which proves to be a fitting finale to an album big on daring tricks and kicks.    

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Pop Sunday

Big Stir Singles: The Yuletide Wave

Various Artists

Big Stir Singles: The Yuletide Wave

(Big Stir Records 2020)


Nobody in their right mind has to be told 2020 has been a major downer. But the year is ending on a great note, because Big Stir Singles: The Yuletide Wave has arrived! Offering twenty-two holiday-related songs, the collection is primed to lift the spirits and restore hope and faith.

It’s only fitting Big Stir Singles: The Yuletide Wave begins with a song addressing the situation we are currently experiencing. And that track is Nick Frater’s Wash Your Hands Of Christmas, which speaks of the lack of  lovely things we normally celebrate during the season. Despite the subject matter, the song sparkles and shines with beauty and bliss. Alison Faith Levy’s All I Want For Chanukah Is A Ukele strums and hums to the noggin-nodding burr of a ukele, and The Brother Steve’s I Love The Christmastime weighs in as a peppy piece of power pop perfection. Michael Simmons channels Frank Sinatra with impressive effects on the crooning Christmas Waltz and from Spygenius, there’s Revels Without A Claus that jumps and jerks to a wonky dance hall shuffle.

Wrapped in atmospheric attire, involving  jazzy horns and novel melodies, I Remember You At Christmas by Anthanor plugs in as a poignant paean to a former sweetheart, while The Decibels cleverly combine the traditional hymn, Angels We Have Heard On High with segments of the sixties garage rock nugget, Gloria with hard-hitting appeal.


The Stan Laurels crib a cue from the warm vocals and detailed construction of The Beach Boys on the shimmery Noche Buena, and Kai Danzberg & Scott McPherson’s frisky The Day Before Christmas vividly recalls the anticipation felt as a child waiting for the fat man on a sleigh to deliver wish list toys and games.

Swinging and spinning with gripping chords and happy harmonies, Groovy Time Of The Year by The Bobbleheads is indeed groovy. Propelled by a bouncy beat and a sugar-coated bubblegummy chorus, the absolutely irresistible. All I Want Is You For Christmas by Kimberely Rew and Lee Cave-Berry sounds like a joint effort between The Archies and Fountains Of Wayne, and Blake Jones & The Trike Shop’s String The Lights And Hold On pitches an ear-pleasing repertoire of choppy drumming, incisive licks and fetching hooks.

Excellent entries from Librarians With Hickeys, Irene Pena, The Forty Nineteens, Anton Barbeau, Dolph Chaney, The JAC, Addison Love, The Stillsouls and Kelly’s Heels with Steve Rinaldi further complete this prized package of sonic greetings. Stuffed to the pores with catchy songs, Big Stir Singles: The Yuletide Wave can actually be enjoyed anytime of the year. You don’t have to practice a certain religion or believe in Santa Claus to appreciate these tasty treats. Every day is a holiday when it comes to a record flashing the Big Stir imprint, and here’s yet another production asserting their care, knowledge and recognition of quality music.

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Pop Sunday

Jeremy / Living The Dream

Jeremy

Living The Dream (JAM Records) 2020


He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-dimensional instrumentalist, record producer and owner of the Portage, Michigan based JAM label. That’s Jeremy Morris, who is known to music fans all over the world for the highly accomplished albums he has been spooling out on a regular basis for the past few decades. To say Jeremy releases a new effort every couple of months is no exaggeration. 


Although Jeremy is a master of many musical fashions, his latest album, Living The Dream, concentrates on the pop rock  side of the pole. Keying in at a whopping seventy-six minutes in length, the twenty-five track collection offers a nice mix of original and cover material. 


Costumed in a coat of chiming guitars and sparkling sensations by the score, the title cut of the album launches the set off on an optimistic note, both sonically and lyrically. The aptly coined Keep The Faith also broadcasts Jeremy’s sunny attitude, Devil Next Door races with skittish spy styled rhythms, and Can’t Buy A Thrill imparts the pitfalls of substance abuse to an edgy and electrifying tenor. 


Beaming with vibrancy and color, Your Sweet Relief could pass as a Badfinger classic, and the catchy ring of Can You Hear Me Calling? features Jamie Hoover of The Spongetones handling guitar, drums, keyboards and harmonica, as well as chipping in on vocals. 
The similarly-christened I Want To Stay and Here To Stay further bear a rather like-minded sound, as the songs are spotted with bluesy George Harrison influenced licks sweeping and weeping with humming melodies. Then there’s the hypnotic pulse of the acoustic-laced Flying Away that blooms with perennial beauty and bliss. 


Jeremy’s music has often been defined as Beatlesque, and a generous portion of Living The Dream certainly adheres to such a description. In fact, one of the remakes on the album is Dear Prudence, which melts into another Beatles song, Baby, You’re A Rich Man, before returning to Dear Prudence, resulting in a very cool and unique move.


Jeremy acknowledges his Byrdsian roots on a loyal take of So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star that includes his recently dearly departed dad, Bill Morris, on trumpet. Rick Nelson’s delicately poignant Are You Really Real? is revisited with utmost taste and grace, and The Flamin’ Groovies are saluted on the power popping nugget I Can’t Hide.

Jeremy’s shredding abilities are showcased to amazing effects on blistering readings of Rick Springfield’s Speak To The Sky and Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky, where The Status Quo’s  Pictures Of Matchstick Men is seriously as great as the initial trippy version.


Raining mettlesome hooks and pitch perfect harmonies, supported by inspiring arrangements and energy to spare, Living The Dream exposes Jeremy in a full-on poptastic mode, leading to an album that is a staple of its genre.

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Pop Sunday

mylittlebrother / Howl

mylittlebrother

Howl (Big Stir Records) 2020 

https://mylittlebrother.bandcamp.com/album/howl


Formed 2012 in Cumbria, England, mylittlebrother features lead singer and pianist Will Harris, guitarist and vocalist Dan Mason, bassist and vocalist Robin Howson and drummer and vocalist Simon Buttress. The quartet recently released their long-awaited second full-length album, Howl, which is rich with sterling surprises.


Armed with a lovely voice emphasizing his British accent, Will sings his shrewdly-scripted  songs on Howl with equal measures of warmth, charm and intensity. The band is truly terrific,  delivering daring instrumental stunts, complemented by waves of in-the-pocket harmonies. A perfect pop song from head to toe, Responsibility romps and rolls to a biting hook, punctured with a burst of whistling sixties styled organ thrills. Built upon an attractive arrangement, a giddy chorus of “ba ba ba ba ba’s” and a flicker of freaky guitar gestures, Janey further embodies mylittlebrother’s knack for producing catchy pop rock. Quirky fret-fingering also arrives on the ear-splitting backwards distortion of Fallen, while Goldmine shakes and shuffles to a rather funky feel.


Starting off in a streamlined rock setting, Chicago is actually three songs mashed into a suite of sorts. The track ultimately transpires into a ravishing piano piece, flooded with melody and light. Majestic piano work is once again exercised on Time Of Our Lives, a sweeping ballad sure to steal the soul, and the title cut of the album favors a hard-edged rhythm and temper.


Comparisions to artists such as The Coral, The Granddaddys and Teenage Fan Club have often been pinned on mylittlebrother. But as Howl attests, they really sound like nobody except mylittlebrother. And that in itself is a good enough reason to give a listen to these engaging songs.

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Pop Sunday

Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes / Good Karma

Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes

Good Karma (Big Stir Records) 2020

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/good-karma


Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Leslie Pereira, her wife Paula Venise on vocals and percussion, Rob Lontok on bass and Jeff Page on drums, Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes have been  deservedly deemed one of Los Angeles, California’s finest bands. Exciting live performances, bolstered by the quartet’s fantastic 2017 debut album, “Fight For Now,” securely sealed their royal reputation.

The band’s long-awaited sophomore effort, “Good Karma,” clocks in as a relevant companion to their first album. While acknowledgments to the punk-padded power pop philosophy of acts such as Blondie, The Go Go’s and The B52’s are present, Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes modernize their insanely catchy songs with maximum value. 
Firing on all cylinders, the group celebrates the joy of playing in a band on the suitably christened “Time To Rock” that simultaneously rolls and roars to a nagging beat. The title track of the album ping pongs with pogo-worthy rhythms, and “If I Could” springs forth with ringing riffs and sugar-sweet melodies. 


A sense of suspense steers “Chrome” that grinds and glides with adventurous curves, where a sense of snarky humor marks the bold and brazen “Race Car,” which is aimed a sorry individual who has apparently failed at every aspect of life. Proving to be a dazzling duo, Leslie and Jeff alternate vocals – with Paula contributing  a curtain of cool harmonies –  on the absolutely awesome “Slip,” an angst-ridden sentiment of love gone bad featuring a shot of crunchy ACDC styled guitar gyrations. A bit of a swagger, a hint of a smirk and a gripping groove direct “Hot Tamale,” which posts as another standout number included on the collection. 


Leslie’s tuneful vocals, projecting a sweeping edge, combined with the band’s killer instrumental instincts, are the stuff that makes “Good Karma” tick and click. Produced by Karen Basset of The Pandoras fame, the album embraces the band’s talent and passion from top to bottom. Twitching and bouncing with electricity, “Good Karma” deposits a dozen hook-happy songs that demand instant bodily reactions. So get the feet moving and rock on! 

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Pop Sunday

Jim Basnight / Jokers, Idols & Misfits

Jim Basnight 

Jokers, Idols & Misfits (Precedent Records) 2020

https://powerpopaholicproductions.bandcamp.com/album/jokers-idols-misfits


Actively involved in music since the mid-seventies, Jim Basnight has certainly made great strides throughout his ongoing journey. Having fronted noted acts such as The Moberlys, The Rockinghams, The Jim Basnight Thing and The Jim Basnight Band, the Indianola, Washington based singer, songwriter and guitarist also boasts a very rewarding solo career.


Although recognized for his excellent original material, Jim chose to compile an album of covers for his latest release, Jokers, Idols & Misfits, which stages an A-grade job of paying homage to his wide-ranging influences. Recently issued as a single on the Big Stir label, Prince Jones Davies Suite is an industrious medley of Prince’s Sometimes It Snows In April,” David Bowie’s Win and World Keeps Going Round by The Kinks.

Instrumentally, the track is rather sparsely furnished, but Jim’s impassioned delivery lends a fierce intensity to the moody movement. 
The Kinks are saluted again on the crisp and crackly This Is Where I Belong, while the hypnotic blush of Jim (aka Roger) McGuinn and Gene Clark’s You Showed Me – which The Turtles scored a hit with in 1969 – contains a splash of cool brass work, supplying the song with a bit of a jazzy touch.

Subsequent jazz inspirations appear on a slowed down version of  Brother Louie that The Stories took to the top of the charts in 1973. Horn arrangements, as well as gospel-flavored harmonies, add an extra layer of inventiveness to Happiness Is A Warm Gun, which is just as potent as the recording we are all acquainted with by The Beatles
T.Rex’s stomping Laser Love locks in as another ace cut on Jokers, Idols & Misfits, along with a wicked reprise of The Who’s classic I Can See For Miles. True Believers are acknowledged with care and respect on the hooky power pop of Rebel Kind, and the sounds of the sixties Pacific Northwest style arrive in the shape of the swaggering Good Thing (Paul Revere and The Raiders) and the brooding teen folk rock of It’s You Alone (The Wailers).

In honor of The Lurkers, there’s the kinetic kick of New Guitar In Town, where She Gives Me Everything I Want revisits the popping rockabilly of The Hollies.


What sets Jokers, Idols & Misfits apart from most albums of its type is that the majority of songs are not merely paint-by-number doodles, nor are they misty-eyed nostalgic sojourns. Jim’s own personality and identity figure strongly in each entry, permitting the material to shine with a reinvigorated spirit. The artists celebrated on Jokers, Idols & Misfits would be mighty proud to hear these fine tributes.

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Pop Sunday

Dan Markell / Give Me The Word

Dan Markell

Give Me The Word

(Fermada Nowhere Music) 2020


For the past couple of decades, Southern California singer, songwriter and multi-faceted instrumentalist Dan Markell has been a familiar face on the independent pop scene. 

Highly praised albums such as “Big Deals” and “Eleven Shades Of Dan Markell,” as well as appearances on compilation sets like “Yellow Pills” and “International Pop Overthrow” have put him on the map, along with collaborations with former Wings drummer Denny Seiwell, Jim Babjak and Dennis Diken of The Smithereens, Coz Canler of The Romantics, Clem Burke of Blondie and The Empty Hearts fame, and  Standells guitarist Tony Valentino. 


Dan’s latest offering is an updated version of a song included on “Eleven Shades Of Dan Markell,” which was released in 2011. Grooving to an even-tempered rhythm, “Give Me The Word” simmers with a soulfully sensuous feel fueled by smoky horns and seductive melodies. Dan’s harmonious vocals – mirroring those of Squeeze and Crowded House – are flawlessly in sync with the sound and motion of this regal song that ropes together soul influences with pop aspirations in a cool and classy manner.


Dan’s revision of “Give Me The Word” is bound to not only pique interest in his back catalog, but make listeners eager to hear his next move. 

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Pop Sunday

Mike Browning / Never Too Late

Mike Browning

Never Too Late (Mike Drop Music 2020)


Talk about serendipity! A fan of The Spongetones since day one, Mike Browning was absolutely thrilled  when he bumped into the band’s leader, Jamie Hoover, on a Sunday afternoon at a Dairy Queen in Oak Island, North Carolina.

Upon conversing, Mike not only discovered he and Jamie were practically neighbors, but that Jamie was teaching recording and production classes at a local community college. Mike wound up enrolling in Jamie’s program, where he was accordingly educated in the fine art of cutting records.

 
Motivated by the lessons, Mike entered the studio and laid down a six track EP titled Never Too Late.  A dazzling debut, the disc demonstrates Mike’s gift for recreating heritage pop rock sounds while adding his own deft composition and construction skills to the show. 
Spilling forth with the parallel pairing of surf and hot rod music, We’re Hanging Out celebrates the freedom of the weekend and having fun with friends. Piloted by Mike’s liquid clear vocals camped somewhere between The Beach Boys and The Bobby Fuller Four, the spunky song bounces and pounces with beaming melodies at every turn, not to mention a zippy little guitar solo and a bracing break.

Similar aspirations arise on the positively irresistible Hide and Seek, that tells the tale of a flirtatious female who all the guys in town literally chase after. A  catchy call and response chorus, aided by stabbing hooks and a pumping roller-rink styled organ worthy of The Gentrys and The Swinging Medallions, further inhabit this danceable ditty.


Co-written with Jamie Hoover, I Didn’t Realize I Was Lost stands as the only song on Never Too Late not written solely by Mike. Sporting a sure and steady arrangement, the sentiment sparkles and shines to a mid-paced beat surrounded by handclaps and lilting harmonies.  A genuine rockabilly number, The List rattles off a long list of chores that demand attention, but in the end it is the narrator’s sweetheart topping the list.

Guided by a swaying rhythm and ringing licks, I Can’t See Nothing But You carries a bit of a sea shanty feel, and Watching the Lines on the Road crackles gingerly to a traditional country setting, spotted with the bray of a honking harmonica and clanging cowbell. 


There is no doubt the songs on Never Too Late would have been huge hit singles had they existed when AM Radio was where it was at. But good music is timeless, and these tunes indeed possess such a quality. Pure; playful and brimming with wide-eyed wonder, Never Too Late is the kind of record that makes you glad to be alive. 

Categories
Pop Sunday

Big Stir Singles / The Seventh Wave

Various Artists

Big Stir Singles: The Seventh Wave (Big Stir Records 2020)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/big-stir-singles-the-seventh-wave


Stationed in Burbank, California, Big Stir Records is not only impressively prolific, but the quality of the label’s output remains consistently high. Along with releasing a never-ending stream of great discs by bands and solo artists, the banner regularly produces Big Stir Singles compilations, which contain both the A and B sides of digital singles recorded by acts from nearly every nook and cranny of the world.


The imprint’s most recent collection – Big Stir Singles: The Seventh Wave – offers an extra treat, as a number of these songs have never been aired until now. You’ll also notice that much of the material relates to the confusing and chaotic times we are presently experiencing. 


Stacked with storming riffs, a driving backbeat and a punchy chorus, Far Away from The Incurables cuts a dashing power pop pose, and The Ex-Quaranteens sign in with We’ll All Drink Alone Together, a mid-tempo crooner-type ballad rimmed with country-laden pedal steel guitar gestures. From Broken Arrows, there’s the anthemic folk rock of Worst Of The Rest, which is wrapped in a bundle of ringing and jingling six-string sensations. Anton Barbeau and Kenny’s Land Of Economy spins and soars to a dizzy display of daring melodies and surrealistic lyrics that resemble a curious coupling of 10CC and Robyn Hitchcock. 


A double shot of penetrating garage rock is provided by The Forty Nineteens in the form of Crocodile Tears and Late Night Radio, the latter which features legendary Standells guitarist Tony Valentino. The Vapour Trails make good with the atmospheric bluster of A Bit More Fire, where Strange moves to a grittier gait projecting in an early seventies underground rock vibe pockmarked with bluesy harmonica fills.

 
The Corner Laughers step up to the plate and hit a home run with the jaunty Calculating Boy, and Nick Frater unveils a spine-tingling showing of his amazing vocal prowess on Intro. The fast and frantic If Romance Is Dead Then I Want To Be Dead Too from Carol Pacer & The Honey Shakers teams hillbilly aspirations with reckless punk rock energy to exciting effects, while the band deposits a completely different demeanor on Love Does, a sweet and tender acoustic-based ballad.
Contributions from Rick Hromadka  include the big and bright harmony popfest of Searchlight that should send fans of The Beach Boys and Todd Rundgren into orbit, and Dreams Of A Hippy Summer, which floats and flutters with flowery psychedelic frequencies. Kai Danzberg and Dear Stella’s Let Him Go lets loose a lashing of trippy space-age soundscapes, and The Empty City Squares check in with History Rhymes, a hook-heavy slab of hypnotic pop-rock grandeur. 


Bumper to bumper with catchy tunes, Big Stir Singles: The Seventh Wave is the yardstick which all albums of its kind should be measured. Nothing but top picks here, my friends.